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Posts Tagged ‘Klay Thompson

Yes, Klay Thompson has been one of the most valuable players in the league

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Klay Thompson and the Warriors front office has been making a lot of bloggers like me look bad. At the time giving up a good shooting guard for a superstar power forward felt like a no brainer.

It’s only been a month and a half but Klay Thompson’s play so far has vindicated the Warriors. Klay is both putting up all-star box score statistics and has dominant +/- statistics.

Just how valuable this version of Klay is if he keeps it up may actually be understated. Because Klay provides a high amount of non-boxscore value.

Half of what makes the Warriors so good isn’t captured in raw statistics. Andrew Bogut’s value on defense goes beyond his 2.2 blocks a game. His positional spacing on help defense will affect plays without him leaving the ground. In addition Warriors fans claim he is a player who’s offensive value goes far beyond his usually pedestrian scoring numbers in areas like picks and directing the floor. In addition to passing which has showed up in a solid 3 assists a game this year. As a Raptors fan I have seen Amir Johnson’s real value playing positional defense and rolling to the rim in always the right place go under appreciated the years. I believe Amir Johnson has one of the 5 best Raptors careers of all time by never averaging more than 10.4 points or 7.5 rebounds a game for the team. It appears Bogut’s value is the Warriors version of this but even better.

Likewise Draymond Green is now an above average player statistically but boxscore stats will miss on his real value. Draymond is arguably one of the best defensive players at the 4 despite averaging an average 1.2 steals and 1.1 blocks per game. Furthermore he also spaces the floor as a 36.7% 3pt shooter on 4.9 attempts a game. The league is increasingly prioritizing players who either space the floor or defend. Draymond does both in addition to a now solid scoring game.

This is in addition to Andre Iguodala who’s defensive impact hasn’t been captured by box score stats for years. In addition to fitting intelligently offensively.

Now we get to Klay Thompson. On one hand Klay Thompson also holds ‘non-boxscore’ value like the above. As the best shooter at his position his floor spacing will make offenses better. He is also an above average defender for the position. If you could quantify “spacing+defense” Klay has a case to lead the Warriors. Although I feel Bogut is the most important defender he doesn’t provide floor spacing. Players like Green and Thompson have a more balanced combination of spacing and defense as one of the best shooters at their respective positions. Whether Thompson’s league leading shooting at SG provides more spacing the rarity of a 3pt shooting PF like Green is up for debate.

But thus what makes Thompson’s value scary is he does this while looking like an all-star in the box-score too. Thompson is scoring 21.2 points per game in 33.1 minutes per game which is 23 points per 36 minutes. The efficiency is there unlike previous seasons with a .579 TS% and a well above average 112 ORTG. Klay’s rebounding and assists are up with 3.7 rebounds and 3.5 assists per game. He has a 20.4 PER and his 2.6 Win Shares so far ranks 15th in the league. Andrew Bogut and Draymond Green provide star spacing or defense value while only putting up average statistics. Klay Thompson does it while also adding all-star statistics.

Consider the case of Lamarcus Aldridge who’s value I have often found to be one of the most fascinating in the league. Aldridge is scoring 22.8 points per game at .518 TS% after 23.2 points on .507 TS% last season. His shot selection relies heavily on inefficient long 2 point jump shots hence the below average TS%. In a normal case this would be the sign of an overrated scorer compared to efficient 3pt shooters or scorers at the rim. However Portland is an intelligent analytics team who has been able to build back to back top 5 offenses around Aldridge. The key is spacing. Portland sacrifices Aldridge’s efficiency to make his teammates more efficient. His midrange shooting spaces the the floor when players drive to score in the paint. His skills in the post demands double teams that allows Portland to pass the ball to open 3pt teammates. Portland uses the 2011 Dallas Mavericks model which used Dirk Nowitzki’s floor spacing and ability to draw doubles to masterfully open up space for teammates. In addition to this Aldridge appears to use his physical tools and intelligence to be an above average defensive player for his position. Compare this to Al Jefferson who has similar scoring statistics to Lamarcus Aldridge. Jefferson however does not provide spacing value when he fills space in the post or steps out for midrange shots teams leave him open to take. Defensively he is a negative contributor. Aldridge’s “spacing+defense” combination is positive and Jefferson’s is negative. Jefferson is the less valuable player for reasons box score stats miss.

I thought Paul George might have been the 3rd most valuable player last regular season for the same reason. By the end of the year his scoring stats were a good not great 21.7 points per game on .555 TS%. George added 6.8 rebounds, 3.5 assists, 1.9 steals per game. He wasn’t the 3rd best statistical player in the league with standouts like Steph Curry, James Harden and Blake Griffin. But at SF George provided arguably defensive player of the year caliber impact in addition to spacing the floor by hitting 36.4% from 3 on 6.3 attempts a game. By spacing the floor and playing defense he already made a huge difference to the Pacers. When adding the tangible value of scoring near 22 points a game at above average efficiency it makes his impact last year superstar caliber in my opinion.

The reason I bring this all up is Klay Thompson is putting up better offensive statistic than Lamarcus Aldridge and Paul George did last year because of efficiency. He does it while showing up in the spacing and defense comparable to players like Aldridge, Bogut, Green or George. That’s why Klay may be one of the 10 or 15 most valuable players in the league this year.

Written by jr.

December 9, 2014 at 2:53 pm

Some closing words on the Warriors and the Klay Thompson-Kevin Love saga

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Kevin Love has been unofficially traded to Cleveland, so I wanted to revisit Golden State’s side of the Love saga, which has been more fascinating than either Cleveland or Minnesota’s.

Golden State refusing to trade David Lee and Klay Thompson for Kevin Love may go down in infamy one day. More or less, the only people who don’t think it’s a bad move is them.

The best article about the Warriors end of this is from Tim Kawakami in late July. In in he stated what I had been suspecting at the time. This is as much about David Lee as Klay Thompson. It’s not so much the Warriors prefer Klay to Love, it’s just they don’t see the difference between two offensively gifted PFs in Lee and Love as worth giving up Klay. Along with other requests Minnesota made like Golden State taking Kevin Martin’s contract or giving up Harrison Barnes.

Golden State thinking Lee and Klay provide as much value as Love and Martin at the same positions, isn’t batshit insane. It’s probably wrong still, I mean, Golden State with Curry, Love and tons of defensive role players like Andre Iguodala, Andrew Bogut, Draymond Green could be an incredible team, which last year’s Warriors weren’t. But nevertheless, it crosses the line of defense-ability to choose the Lee/Klay combo. Klay Thompson had better raw on/off +/- than Kevin Love last year, it’s possible the Warriors think his combination of floor spacing and defense is a key to their starting lineup.

Where this decision really breaks down is in the long term. In the NBA players value does not extend to the previous or next season, but the long term after that as well. David Lee is 31 and his value to the Warriors should not last long. In 2016 he will be a 33 year old free agent. If they don’t lose him outright to another team, they may regret overpaying a player well on the backside of his career. At the same time, Love will be entering his absolute prime, which much more longevity both as a superstar and then valuable post-prime star. The difference in value in 2014 between Kevin Love and David Lee is significant, but that difference only grows in time. Even if the Warriors somehow convince themselves Klay bridges the gap now, will that be the case in 2017 and 2018 when Lee is either old or on another team and Klay is on a maximum contract?

In other words, in the short term Kevin Love and Kevin Martin is probably more valuable than Klay Thompson and David Lee. In the long term, it likely ceases to be a question which combination is more valuable. In the NBA there’s no easier way to build an every-year contender with 2 superstars who only need role players plugged and rotated around them. The Warriors trying to build a contender with Klay and Lee on the other hand is a tightrope. Even if they manage to contend next year (something I’d personally bet against), in the long run the age and free agencies of Lee, Andrew Bogut and David Lee means the Warriors have to do the dance of avoiding overpaying older players and trying to find new core players in free agency in the draft. If making mistakes, this balanced team could collapse to also-ran and lower level playoff team. But a team with Stephen Curry and Kevin Love is probably in good shape no matter how the pieces are refit around them. Compare them to the Houston Rockets who lost Chandler Parsons, Jeremy Lin and Omer Asik, but because they have James Harden and Dwight Howard, it seems inevitable they’ll restock the roster around them to contend. That’s the type of “easy” reshuffling having Curry and Love would do for the Warriors. Superstars are consistently valuable, while balanced lineups could one day become unbalanced. I understand the Warriors are in “all in” mode and aren’t thinking about the long term as much right now, but it’s already hard enough to make the argument Lee and Klay are better than Love and Martin, when virtually all statistical evidence supports the latter. It isn’t like there’s a decisive indication Klay and Lee win the short term battle while Love and Martin win the long term one.

Just to mention, there’s the question of whether Love would resign in Golden State next summer after the trade, but I don’t see it as much of one. In addition to a fantastic roster to play with, the Warriors would be able to offer him far more money than alternatives. Just as Cleveland has already gotten a commitment out of Love to resign, I suspect the Warriors would have. It’s no excuse for not making the deal.

Written by jr.

August 10, 2014 at 7:57 pm

Free agency advice column: Ask Dr. Offseason

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Dear Dr.

We just got back together with Lebron James and are SO EXCITED. But what should we do next? Should we make the leap for Love? Minnesota keeps asking us for Andrew Wiggins. We love the idea of Wiggins being our defensive, Scottie Pippen-like compliment to Kyrie Irving and Lebron James. We think this could be like when the Lakers added a young James Worthy to a team with Magic Johnson and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar on it. It may take a few years, but is it worth giving that up for Kevin Love?

– Dan, Cleveland, OH

Dear Dan, I understand why you would be scared to pull the trigger, but you have to make this deal for Love.
First, a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush. Andrew Wiggins is not a guarantee to be a star like Kevin Love. Consider the dichotomy between these two players. Love in college was labelled as having a ceiling beneath star, because despite all the skill, strength, feel for the game and motor in the world, his average athleticism was supposed to limit him. Wiggins is getting called a guaranteed star because he has all the athleticism in the world, despite skill, strength, feel for the game and motor being concerns. Do you see where I’m going with this? If it goes wrong, Wiggins may not be a star for the inverse reason of why Love is one.

Secondly Dan, it’s just about age. To be honest your team with Lebron, Kyrie Irving, Dion Waiters, Ray Allen, Mike Miller, Tristan Thompson, Anthony Bennett, Anderson Varejao and Chris Anderson, isn’t good enough. The supporting cast members are either too young or too old Dan. Rosters like the Spurs and Thunder are more talented and deeper.

The problem is the cost of waiting 2 or 3 years for Wiggins and Bennett to develop. Lebron will have his 12th season next year. Here’s some 12th seasons of recent superstars:

Shaquille O’Neal: 2003-2004
Kevin Garnett: 2006-2007
Kobe Bryant: 2007-2008
Tim Duncan: 2008-2009
Dirk Nowitzki: 2009-2010

All had a relatively short window by this point, to win a title at their apex. Like them Lebron will remain an elite player after he slightly declines, but the Cavs should want to strike when the iron is hottest, while Lebron is still at a greatest of all time level.

Kevin Love is perfect for the Cavaliers, Dan. He’s old enough to immediately contend now and young enough to be a star until Lebron is in his late 30s. With Lebron, Irving, Love and shooters like Allen and Miller, the Heat become the most unstoppable offense in the league. To me this is a no brainer. Love is the way to go.

Dear Dr.

We have a chance for Love, but when they kept asking for Klay Thompson, we backed out of it. We love how Klay and Steph fit together in the long run and don’t feel the difference between David Lee and Kevin Love is worth an all-star caliber starting SG. Are we making the right decision Dr.? Or are we thinking with our hearts instead of our heads?

– Joe, Oakland, CA

Joe, this is crazy. Think about what you’re doing because it’s crazy. I can’t see where you’re coming from here at all.

Look Klay Thompson is an exciting shooting guard and David Lee’s production is underrated, but this is a superstar you can trade for. As complex and wonderful as the NBA is, succeeding is as simple as getting multiple, mid 20s superstars at the same time. When you team up a pair like Steph and Love everything falls into place around them. Not to mention having defensive talent like Andre Iguodala, Draymond Green and Andrew Bogut is perfect for those two. If the Warriors make this move they’re as big a title contender as anyone, instead of looking at a 5th or 6th seed season.

I can understand the argument that Klay Thompson and David Lee combined may be as productive as Kevin Love next year, even if I’d disagree. Where this really becomes a no brainer is the long term. Neither player’s current value is constant. David Lee is 31 and will be an unrestricted free agent in 2 years. Klay Thompson is on his rookie scale, but judging by Gordon Hayward and Chandler Parsons deal, will be on a maximum salary as soon as he can get it. In other words, eventually instead of Lee and Klay, Lee expires and Klay’s salary means that you can’t replace Lee’s production on the free agent market. The Warriors just end up with Klay Thompson instead of the superior Kevin Love. In the long run a superstar is the way to go. Superstars are the biggest financial bargains available, with how the CBA restricts their real value. Kevin Love will give you more bang for your buck than Klay making the same salary.

I have to be honest Joe, I haven’t liked the Warriors moves much since you came aboard, with a short-sighted Andre Iguodala deal leading the way. But Kevin Love is all but fallen into your lap. If you get him contending will be easy. The history of the NBA says target the superstars, always target the superstars. The Warriors are far more likely to regret turning down Love than jumping for him.

Dear Dr.

Kevin Love wants out of here. I know we haven’t been able to give him everything he wants, but he was our hope to get back to the playoffs. Without him, now what? We go back to the lottery? We end up in the middle of the league, picking 13th or 14th in the lottery but not making the playoffs? This doesn’t sound good to me. We’re still damaged from David Kahn, what if we had Stephen Curry and Kevin Love right now? I don’t know what to do

– Flip, Minneapolis, MN

Flip, you just have to pick up the pieces and make the best decision you can. Here’s my advice: Don’t worry about fit. Just get the most valuable assets and make it work later.

I wouldn’t be so bent on the Klay Thompson and David Lee package if I were you. Klay is going to get a max salary soon and will lose a lot of his value to a franchise. Lee becomes less valuable when he expires. Those players still leave your roster with a lot of work to do.

As for a potential Cleveland offer of Andrew Wiggins and Anthony Bennett, I’m mixed. Although I’m lower on Wiggins talent than most, I’m higher on Bennett’s and feel he could be an all-star PF for you. On the whole it’s a decent move to trade Love for those two, giving you young talent around Ricky Rubio and Nik Pekovic long term.

You could also trade Love to the Chicago Bulls for a package like Taj Gibson, Jimmy Butler and Nikola Mirotic. The problem is this is a lot of good but not great. Taj Gibson is 29 so he’s not the most youngest of pieces to rebuild with. Still it gives the Wolves potentially 3 starting caliber players and if you want to win, it’s an option.

Of your options I say holding out for the Cleveland kids is the best way to go. Yeah you may not win the most games next year, but in the long run you could have starters at SF and PF, along with cap flexibility to rebuild the team with. You wouldn’t be starting from ground zero.

Dear Dr.

WOW, this is a disaster. We thought we were getting Chris Bosh for sure if Lebron James left Miami, but then he resigns in Miami? We traded away Jeremy Lin and Omer Asik just to make this happen, so now what should we do? How do we rebound?

– Daryl, Houston, TX

Daryl, this is a tough spot for you. Chris Bosh was the perfect player for your team and what’s more, holding out so long to sign Bosh or Carmelo only to get neither, along with Chandler Parsons offer sheet putting you on the clock, severly limits your options. Sure, you could go after Luol Deng or Trevor Ariza, but do they fit a team with Parsons? You could wait for Goran Dragic or Rajon Rondo next summer, but do they fit with James Harden?

I’d have loved to see Isaiah Thomas on the Rockets but then BAM, Phoenix signs him, off the market.

So I don’t have a solution for you Daryl. Maybe you should try the less sexy but safe option. Call up Danny Ainge and see if he wants to trade you Jeff Green for your capspace. Yeah he’s not Chris Bosh, but he spaces the floor, is competent defensively and can be a glue guy. You have an awesome team Daryl with Harden, Dwight Howard, Parsons and Patrick Beverly. Jeff Green may be a rebound guy but maybe he’ll turn into Mr. Right.

Dear Dr.

Dr, I don’t know what to do. Lance is one of the most exciting players we’ve had, we’re a team that needs this talent and dynamic ability. But he can also be an egotistical jerk and rubs our players the wrong way. Last year his rise to prominence led our team chemistry to fall apart. Sometimes we watch Lance’s antics and are like wow, is this really us, didn’t we swear this off after Ron? But if we let him go, we don’t feel we’re a sexy enough option for other free agents and may just end up with a drip. We tried bringing in Evan Turner as a replacement and BOY, that did not turn out. I’m not letting Sam Hinkie trade me a player again, the 76ers give it up so easy, no wonder they only have losers to trade. Dr, what should I do?

– Larry, Indianapolis, IN

This is one of the toughest decisions of the summer, Larry. I agree Lance has a negative influence on your team. I have to be honest Larry, before Lance became a star, the Pacers were like a Christian rock band. Yeah they weren’t the coolest band around, but they had good chemistry, played hard and didn’t mess around with distractions. But Lance becoming a star is like if the band hired a non-Christian guitarist who was a sex addict and brought drugs with him on tour. He made their band sound better, but soon enough his negative influence led the others to slip and to fight with each other. Maybe it’s time to go back to your Christian rock band roots.

But on the other hand, this league is about talent Larry. You can’t just walk up against teams like the Spurs and Lebron’s Cavaliers and expect to win on hard work and chemistry. You need dynamic players and game changers. That’s why giving up on Lance is so hard. He has the star upside to take you over the top.
Here’s what I recommend: I say resign Lance. But here’s what you do. Play out next season and see if the Pacers can get it together and become elite again. If the team self-destructs in chemistry, then just trade Lance after next year. His talent and youth will make him have trade value and you’ll get assets for him. By resigning Lance, you can try the “no Lance” option at a later date. But if you let Lance go, you’ll never have the chance to go back and try it with him again.